ABC’s Political Radar reports:
Sources tell ABC News that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be staying on in the top Pentagon job, for at least the first year of the Obama administration. “It is a done deal” a source close to the process tells ABC News.
The former Eagle Scout is expected to be rolled out immediately after the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend as part of a larger national security team expected to include Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, as Secretary of State; Marine Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.) as National Security Adviser; Admiral Dennis Blair (Ret.) as Director of National Intelligence; and Dr. Susan Rice as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
First, there are some new appointments in the above team: Retired General James Jones is confirmed as National Security Adviser and Retired Admiral Dennis Blair is named as Director of National Intelligence.
Second, I think keeping Gates on a purely-temporary basis isn’t a bad idea. Early in his administration, Obama is going to push withdrawal from Iraq and re-engagement with Afghanistan; he’s going to need someone at the Pentagon who can make that happen without alienating the military commanders on the ground.
Obama doesn’t have the time to build a good relationship with the military, so he has to have someone around who already has that; keeping Gates could very well be the quickest, most effective path toward an orderly, timely Iraq withdrawal.
Of course, once the Iraq withdrawal is underway I say Gates should be replaced as soon as possible, but I don’t mind waiting and seeing how this plays out.